Lisa's scores

From: <(>
Date: Thu Jun 26 13:43:24 1997

> Unfortunately, it was a classic design at the time - a lot of people
> thought it looked like a dumb terminal (VT100).

If you think about it, though, the case design is quite nice for sitting
on a desktop. It's footprint is at least half that of an IBM PC, if you
discount the dedicated space required for the mouse.

Also I think I read somewhere that they purposefully designed it to look
like a "business-like" dumb terminal to get around the "hobbyist/home
computer" reputation of the Apple IIs. I'd also guess that secretaries
(who the machine was designed for) would feel more comfortable with a new
system if it looked like their old one.

> That is why I call it a foul - they gave the ball a real smack, but into
> the side seats. Using the 68000 was a big step, far more powerful than
> what powered most desktop machines at the time. The problem is that Apple
> tried to do too much with the poor chip. As a system, it really is no
> good (I am going to catch at least one rotten peach for this). The
> engineers should have seen this and cut down the operating system.

Actually, I've always felt that they didn't do ENOUGH with the 68000.
They clocked the poor thing at 5Mhz... it could have happily taken 8,
but the story goes that at the time they were designing the Lisa, the
68000 wasn't out yet. So Motorola gave them a 68000 "emulator" which was
a box with a bunch of discrete components in it that did effectively what
the chip would do... but it only ran at 5Mhz.

In using my own Lisa, it really isn't that sluggish. Especially if you
compare it to a Mac 128 or 512. The filesystem on the Lisa is VERY
advanced and allows for recovery from errors that'd hork other
filesystems. It has memory protection which keeps it from being as
flakey as the early Macs (and later Macs :), and it truely multitasks
instead of just lame task-switching like it's Macintosh cousin.

The only other machine to squeeze as much out of a 68K would have to be
the Amiga 1000 & 500. And it had helper processors to help keep meanial
things like graphics, sound and disk access from bothering the CPU.

The one thing that the Mac has over the Lisa, however, is SOUND. The
Lisa's sound system is about the same as the Apple II. Beep, Boop.

BTW, Allison, the Lisa wasn't actually a PROTOTYPE for the Mac. Rather it
was the sister machine to the Mac. The Lisa and Mac projects stemmed from
the same research, with the Mac project splitting off from the Lisa
project shortly after its inseption. I'm not sure of all the politics
behind the separate projects but apparantly they had quite a bit of
competition between the two. The Lisa project was supposedly comprised of
mostly older guys that'd worked for HP, IBM and other "old school"
companies and did things the "old school" way. The Macintosh project was
allegedly new guys that weren't steeped in the old traditions of big
machines and just did things less methodicly. This is evident if you take
appart a Lisa and a Mac side by side. The Lisa has a motherboard with CPU
on daughterboard design, like an old mini or something... nice and modular
with thumbscrews... no screwdrivers needed. Steve Jobs supposedly
supported the Lisa throughout this battle, naming the machine after his
daughter (it also stood for something... Logically Integrated System...
Uhhh???). He felt it was the better machine with better software and
would prevail over the Mac and the IBM PC. However, when things started
looking bad for her, he jumped ship and started pushing the Mac.

Overall, it was the Lisa's pricetag that is most responsible for its
demise, I think. At $10,000, it was considerably more expensive than a
similarly configured (1M RAM, 10M HD) IBM PC, which was probably

However, the Lisa still lives on. Every time you pull down a window
you're using Lisa technology. Lisa was also the first to have an
integrated office suite which could cut-n-paste between apps. Xerox
provided much of the inspiration, but Lisa polished the GUI into a usable
system. It's really quite impressive for a machine designed 78-81 and
released in 82.

> Question for any Alto owners - was the original Xerox GUI machine just as
> slow?

Saw one on TV once, but I'm not sure what the Alto's processor was. But
as I recall, it's GUI wasn't as flashy.

Not a rotten peach... but I had to say a few words about my favorite
machine. My girlfriend Holly was quite upset when I started calling
her Lisa after purchasing my Lisa 2/5. But if anyone has a working Lisa
Lite board(floppy controller), I'm in the market for one. :)

Received on Thu Jun 26 1997 - 13:43:24 BST

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